Sedona Trip Report

Old Aug 18th, 2004, 01:34 PM
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Sedona Trip Report

My wife & I just returned (last night) from 6 days in Sedona. What a great trip! I see that two other travelers just posted reports yesterday, so I'll try not to duplicate the oohhhs and aahhhs.

We flew into Phoenix on USAir (uneventful, ontime flight); went to the rental counter (we had made online reservations with Thrifty); checked luggage was ready as soon as we finished at the Thrifty counter; quickly got onto a Thrifty shuttle bus and had our rental car headed toward Sedona probably no more than 30 minutes after exiting the plane. I suspected this was going to be a good trip. I'd highly recommend Thrifty (the airport tax for all rental cars is outrageous, I think it was like 40%, but you can't beat the convenience), especially as they let me pre-pay for a fill-up at $1.77 per gallon. The cheapest we saw gas anywhere was about $1.85.

Oh yeah, the Thrifty attendant looked at us in amusement because we had requested a convertible (Sebring). Admittedly, Phoenix was hot, and the first few days in Sedona were warm too. But for most of our time in Sedona (and GC, etc.), the convertible was awesome--unlimited views of the rocks & canyon walls.

We stayed at The Orchards Inn for an average rate of about $119 per night. Great value. The room was nice (not The Plaza, but clean and comfortable), and the balcony affords an awesome 180 degree view of great rock formations, including Snoopy Rock, Camel Rock, Cathedral. We stayed on the third (highest) floor; the second floor would probably be okay too, but some of the first floor rooms appeared to have tree-obstructed views.

One of the great things about the Orchards is its location. It's just beyond the Y and in the heart of uptown Sedona--we could walk to nearly anything you would want to see (shops, galleries). West Sedona requires a short 5 minute drive to get to more shops, restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, here's our experience. Day one: dinner at Javelina Cantina--big portions, fairly nice selection (the salsa that night was great, not as good the second time we ate there), pretty good.

Day two: lunch at the Heartline Cafe--far and away, our favorite meal. It's in West Sedona, lots of southwestern but with a creative flair, we loved the trout with a dijon sauce. Dinner at Casa Rincon, also in West Sedona. I was really impressed with this Mexican restaurant (sister restaurant to El Rincon in Tlaquepaque)--we sat on the patio and had a great meal, typical fare (enchiladas, rellenos, burritos), but really good.

Day three we ventured to Jerome. This was one of the highlights of our trip. My wife loved the shops and galleries here much more than the ones in Sedona--a little more informal, fun, and creative than in Sedona. Also, the Jerome Winery was outstanding. Who would have thought this little town would have such great wines, and a good variety, creative, lots of blends. Finally, we ate at the Red Rooster Cafe--light lunch, we split a green chile quiche and salads. But the real surprise was the blueberry pie we got to go and ate the next morning for breakfast--wow! This was my wife's second favorite restaurant after Heartline Cafe.

For Dinner on Day Three, we intended to go out for a splurge meal, but instead we discovered the prepared food counter at New Frontier Food Market in West Sedone. It caters to vegetarians, which except for fish we are, so we were in heaven. We took back to our balcony tamales, kung pao tofu, marinated salads, etc for dinner. I know you non-vegetarians are going YUCK! But vegetarian travelers, please visit this place and keep it in business.

Saturday, we awoke to the news that Charley was predicted to make landfall at or near our home in Myrtle Beach. Great--my wife's parents are house/pet-sitting for us there; my father-in-law's cell phone keeps going out. And of course, this is our big day for seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time! We did decide to go ahead to the GC, via Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater. We loved Wupatki (and Sunset Crater only a little less so). Supposedly there is a Painted Desert overlook, but that day (somehwat overcast) we couldn't really see any evidence of it.

We entered the GC via the East Entrance, and that was great. Our first few vistas were uncrowded and unhurried. I have to admit that the closer we got to the crowds at GC village, the less I enjoyed the experience. Nonetheless, the GC is awesome. One note: doing the GC as a day-trip from Sedona makes it a little difficult to see the GC at its best, sunset or sunrise.

Oops, have to run--more to follow.
beach_dweller is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Thanks for the report Beach Dweller

My family and I are setting off for sedona (via san diego) from the UK on Friday and staying at the Orchards before travelling to GC.

Thanks for pointing out the upper floors and the view we will request this when we check in.

I hope Charley was kind to you.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 06:25 PM
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Thanks for the nice report.
Sedona is one of my favorite weekend getaway spots.
I noticed your comment about prefilling the gas tank at Thrifty. Just an FYI for future: this option is a very nice source of profit for the rental agencies (most all offer this). It's nearly impossible to return the car's tank empty. You've already paid for any gas left in the tank. The only way you could avoid losing money on this proposition (as compared with filling the gas tank on your own at $1.85+) would be to return the car with less than 0.8 gallons.
You paid (example=18 gallon tank) $31.86 for the tank of gas. Filling on your own you'd pay $33.30. That's a $1.44 saving if you leave zero gas at return.
If you leave even one gallon ($1.77 worth) in the tank at return, you're already in the hole versus filling up on your own.
Easily 90% of people leave more than a gallon in the tank. The agency then sells this gas (that you paid for) to the next customer. Money in the company's pocket.

The agencies offer a discount price on the gas because they almost always end up getting free gas back when you return.
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Old Aug 18th, 2004, 07:13 PM
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Beach Dweller , I read your trip report with great interest. We'll be in Sedona early in Oct., and I'm eager to gather suggestions and hints !
So what is the best way to return a rental car ????
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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Thanks for the report, beach dweller. You are making me miss Sedona and the surrounding beauty. So, did you see the sliding jail in Jerome?

I agree that I hope Charley was nice to you. Looking forward to the rest of your report.

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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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Andy, Charley spared us the fury it unleashed on Florida--we had a few trees down but not much more than that. I am sure you'll have a great time in Sedona. If you haven't been there before, here are a few considerations: (1) it gets pretty hot from about 1:00 p.m. through 4:00 p.m. (probably in the 90's, with direct sunlight making it seem even hotter and (2) the elevation & low humidity may sap your strength a little--drink lots of water!

Ted, you make a good point about the rental car pre-fill option. But I guess it's just the cheapskate in me--I returned the car nearly on empty! Also, it was nice not having to get off the freeway in Phoenix rush hour traffic to find a gas station.

Jenny, I am sure Thrifty is not the only rental car company to offer this at the Phoenix airport, but here's how it went. Returing the car was easy, and basically the reverse of getting it. We drove to the Thrifty rental building (a few miles from the airport)--very good directions; good signs. Parked it, waited perhaps 2 or 3 minutes for the inspection, and then hopped on the shuttle bus that was waiting for us. Bus dropped us off at our terminal after about a 5 minute ride. Very good experience with Thrifty.

Back to the trip!

I think I had my days mixed up a little as to meals--we had Casa Rincon left-overs for dinner Sat. night, and we didn't go to the New Frontier food market until Sundday night. In any event, we decided to splurge a little for lunch on Sunday and went to Shugrue's (lots of raves about this place on this forum). Probably because of our expectations, we were mildly disappointed. The food was fine (my smoked salmon club sandwich was very good; my wife's trout was cooked perfectly, but she was expecting more of a bold sauce--like the one I had with my trout at Heartline). However, our waiter was apparently a graduate of the Distant and Aloof School for Servers. After meeting so many friendly shopkeepers and waiters in Sedona, it was a bit of a shock. In another city, we wouldn't have noticed.

More shopping after lunch. My wife bought most of her gifts for friends in one little shop. I think it was called Naja. Again, the uptown Sedona shops were fine, but we really liked the ones in Jerome better.

One cool thing we noticed--the lightning and storm clouds coming through the canyons. I won't spoil it, but I hope anyone traveling to Sedona from the east coast gets to see an afternoon storm.

On our last day, we intended to have an early lunch at El Rincon in the Tlaquepaque shopping center, but it didn't open until noon. Because we wanted to get on the road before then, we returned to Javelina Cantina for lunch. It was fine (except the salsa was not quite as good as before)--we just wanted to try something different that day. Oh well.

We had a very easy drive back to Phoenix on Highway 17--it's neat watching the vegetation change as you lose altitude. In Phoenix we braved the 100 degree heat and visited the Desert Botanical Garden for a few hours, beginning at about 3:00 p.m. The park is fantastic IF you are fascinated with cacti. We were, so it was a lot of fun. We saw lots of critters--lizards, rabbits, quail--and you realize the park is really just part of the overall desert habitat (albeit with lots of extra cacti added in).

We stayed at the Rennaissance in Scottsdale. We got a great rate via internet, $89. The hotel is actually a series of *casitas* Like little condos scattered among green lawns. Very nice, all the hotel staff were very attentive. We intended to drive and have a great dinner out in Scottsdale, but a severe thunderstorm (with marble sized hail) kept us close to the hotel. We ended up at a place next to the hotel called El Torito. It was actually pretty good mexican, just not the wonderful experience we were hoping for at a place like Los Sombreros.

Woke up the next morning for our flight back to Myrtle Beach--everything went as expected (unfortunately including a 5 hour layover in Charlotte). What a great trip! We would highly recommend Sedona.
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Really good report, Chuck. Just a few things I'm wondering about as we look forward to our trip and stay in Sedona in late Sept. 1) Do you know if there is a way or anything we can do to make sure we get a room on the 3rd or 2nd floor with a good view at the Orchard Inn? We have a reservation there for two nights, but didn't see a way for requesting the floor. Maybe if I email them a request? What do you think? 2) On Jerome, I just about wrote it off based on some of the negative reports on this board, but you make it sound like a very worthwhile visit to there - guess it goes to show, huh? 3)Did you do the Pink Jeep tour or the Trolley tours, or did you find doing things on your own a good way to go?
Thanks. And glad you fared ok with Charley. I have family in Orlando and Melbourne,FL and they were ok, but your heart goes out to so many who were not that fortunate.
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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I'm not lurking, really. I've just been on Fodors all morning--needed my fix after being away (and off-line) for a week.


Call the hotel directly, and they can book you into a specific room. I too did internet reservations and could not make a floor selection until I called the hotel. I didn't see anything that would obscure the view from any of the second or third floor rooms--all have balconies that face the red rocks.

I too saw a few negative comments about Jerome when researching for this trip. So our expectations were low. Jerome IS a tiny little town, but the way it is perched on the side of a cliff is really neat--I sort of felt a kinship with native american cliff dwellers of long ago.

Finally, we did not do a jeep or hummer tour for medical reasons. I think that would have been fun. There are several side streets off the main roads (Highways 89A and 179), but they quickly become dirt/gravel roads. We (my wife actually) did not feel comfortable driving them in a regular car, although I suspect they were navigable. If we could go back and change anything, I might have rented a jeep instead of a car. The roads I know of that you can explore on your own in a car are: the airport road, Schnebly (sp?) Hill Road, and Dry Creek (the road that goes to Enchantment and Boynton Canyon). I didn't see where the trolley would be all that great--it duplicates what you can do either walking or driving around town.
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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Oh Beach Dweller - my husband and I were in Sedona in May !! Great Trip we stayed at the Hyatt Pinchon Pt which I have to say was FABULOUS the room had a fire place, jaquizzi tub, kitchen etc. everything was brand new ! We took the Pink Jeep tours which I have to say were great - we also ate at the Heartline Cafe - food was great ! We went to the GC drove which was really nice day then after 3 nites moved down to Carefree where we stayed at the Boulders - Boulders was great but I think next time I will try something directly in Scottsdale - Enjoy for whoever is making the trip soon!
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Old Aug 19th, 2004, 03:45 PM
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Costello: you meant to type "Pinon Pointe" -- with a little squiggle over the first n in Pinon. Spanish for pine. Pronounced: pin-yon. Really nice place, in the middle of things. Great views, shops, restaurants.
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